Spending a week in and around San Francisco makes for a truly memorable holiday. There are so many things to do and so much to see that you may well feel that a week is not long enough.
One of the first things that you absolutely must do is take a ride on the city’s cable cars. For a few dollars, you will get a view like no other. See Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown, and take in the amazing view across the bay from Pacific Heights to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
If you are feeling a little bit more adventurous, you can join the locals skating, jogging, walking, or biking through Golden Gate Park, which is 3 miles long. There are all sorts of sights such as bridges, paddocks, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the white-domed Conservatory of Flowers. You can hire skates and bikes for a few dollars if you wish.
If you have ever seen the Steve McQueen film “Bullit” made in 1968, now’s your chance to drive down the street in which he had the high-speed car chase. It is called Lombard Street and is known as the most crooked street in the world.
Next, climb aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train with its beautifully restored Pullman cars and take a trip through the vineyards and lush surrounding fields. Spend the afternoon wine-tasting and enjoying a gourmet meal.
The following day, if you get up early, you can take an optional trip over the Napa Valley in a hot-air balloon. Visit the California State Railway Museum with 21 meticulously restored locomotives, together with numerous other exhibits, which demonstrate how railroads contributed to the local economy. Then you travel from the Sacramento River Valley to Lake Tahoe where you can have an optional dinner cruise on the lake at sunset, enjoying the magnificent views.
Then it is on to the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Mono Lake with its unusual limestone formations that are called “tufa towers." Mono Lake was once part of a huge inland lake that covered most of the states of Utah and Nevada. Today, migrating birds use it as a resting place before flying on to South America. Now you descend from the Tioga Pass, which is covered in snow for most of the year, to Yosemite National Park to view the Yosemite Falls.
The following day you head into the Salinas Valley where you're join an agricultural educational tour and learn about the advanced farming techniques of fruit and vegetable production from a local expert. Then you drive past the Pebble Beach golf links and the famous Lone Cypress Tree to Monterey. Here you will actually take part in the creation of your own evening meal with your hosts, using the freshest local ingredients and enjoying the whole farm to table experience.
The next day you will drive to the village of Carmel-by-the-Sea when you can browse the shops or have a coffee, before visiting some sandy beaches to watch the sea lions and dolphins at play. Then, back to Monterey for a tour of Cannery Row.
On the final day of your trip, you journey back in time to the 1880s and visit a recreated logging camp. Just a few minutes away you can wander among the giant redwoods in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. These are some of the largest living things on the planet.
San Francisco is famous for its restaurants and there is an abundance of seafood such as abalone, sand dabs, bay shrimp, and Dungeness crab. Many of the restaurants serve a dish called Joe’s Special, which is a mix of spinach, onions, mushrooms, minced beef, and eggs. The dish originated in 1932 when the chef told a local bandleader after a late show that that was all he had left in the kitchen. The bandleader said: “just mix them together,” which is how the dish originated. Of course, as regards wines you are spoiled for choice with a selection from the nearby Napa Valley.
A holiday to San Francisco is nothing short of an absolute delight, and one that you will almost certainly want to repeat.